Myanmar most disaster-prone in Southeast Asia: official
MYANMAR has more natural disasters than any other country in Southeast Asia, according to Relief and Resettlement Department director U Win Htein Kyaw.
“When it comes to disaster occurrence in Southeast Asia, Myanmar seems to be first or second on the list,” he said at the International Day for Disaster Reduction ceremony last week.
His claim is buffeted by the several international rakings of natural disaster vulnerability, including UN OCHA’s list of most at-risk Asia-Pacific countries.
Most recently, the UN’s The 2016 Global Climate Risk report identified as one of 20 countries in a “conflictclimate nexus”, a combination of severe environmental vulnerability along with pre-existing social fragility and weak institutions.
The report cited 2008’s Cyclone Nargis as an example of the kind of situation that can emerge from such vulnerabilities.
In May 2008, Cyclone Nargis struck the Ayeyarwady delta, killing nearly 140,000 people and impacting about 2.4 million, according to official figures.
Last year, flooding and Cyclone Komen killed dozens and impacted millions of people.
U Win Htein Kyaw said deforestation, pollution and extraction of natural resources, like sand and gold, are exacerbating these natural disasters.
“Because of these changes, natural disasters are occurring more frequently every year,” he said. “People are greedy and they take out more natural resources than they need, causing environmental damage and climate change.”
Climbing population figures and increased carbon emissions are also impacting climate change, he said.
“Disasters happen because of people and their waste products,” U Win Htein Kyaw said. “They are the main reason. If they cannot control themselves, natural disasters will happen regularly.”
– Translation by Khant Lin Oo
A man walks under a billboard destroyed by 2008’s Cyclone Nargis.